Hard To Find Green in Houston

A reader calls attention to this Chronicle letter to the editor from Pamela R. Zuteck of Clear Lake Shores:

Regarding “Texans can pay extra to rebuild the eco-friendly way if their home is hit by disaster” (Page A1, Sunday), trying to “go green” using Houston’s contractors will make you throw up your hands. They are clueless or resistant to even simple things like low-VOC paint. Product suppliers are hard to find or too far away to be practical. We saw Ike as a real opportunity to step it up but have met frustration at every turn. There’s no help out there. It was a victory just to get a few items, like Hardiplank removable interior wallboard. We had to do all the research and coordination, then design and supervise every step of installation. We sorted the waste for recycling. No wonder more people don’t go green. It’s just too hard.

Writes our reader:

I have no reason to doubt the contentions, but am stumped at the writer’s mention of “Hardiplank removable interior wallboard.” Since your reader/participants are so very knowledgeable, could you ask them to weigh in? My search of the internets provided nada.

19 Comment

  • Try New Living, on Kirby in the Village. http://www.newliving.net/

    They carry much of this stuff and have resources to find every most everything else Green for building, housekeeping, and even gardening. The staff is great too.

  • I think that “hardiplank removable interior wallboard” is a non paper faced gypsum wallboard that could be removed at wall top and bottom to allow convective air drying.
    The procedure is described here: http://www.coastalcontractor.net/pdf/2006/0607/0607rebu.pdf

  • I had visions of a family in the surge zone.. ” Honey- grab the kids, the cat and the removable wallboard- we’re heading to higher ground!”

  • Also, hardi materials (planks, pipes, etc.) were created in Australia by mixing sand and plant cellulose material and melding thing in a pressure chamber.

    Many people try to claim this was part of a green building materials revolution, but they are lying or misguided.

    Hardi materials have been around for many years and were invented in Australia because they have limited resources to make cement powder for concrete. The material was created out of necessity. In the US, we have had easy access to cement resources (local natural resource) and have develop channels to also add to our cement supply from overseas locations.

    The James Hardy company has one facility in the US (in Florida) and they are researching building their second one here in Texas somewhere near Houston. I haven’t talked to my Hardy rep in a while for more details. We commonly see Hardiplank here in the US, but the Hardy company is trying to break into the storm sewer business that they have close to dominated in Australia. There major competitor is the Rinker Company which which also makes the same products. Rinker is more commonly know around the US as a concrete pipe supplier.

  • I’m not sure what “Hardiplank removable interior wallboard” is either, it doesn’t seem to be an actual product but may refer to the installation method. They used this in the 99K house project recently featured on this website, to provide flexibility in the space configurations. IMHO, demountable partition systems aren’t that useful in residential applications, and I’m not sure what makes this product ‘green’ other than as a material. It may have recycled content, may be low VOC, may be resourced locally, who knows. Maybe try posting a comment on the Chronicle’s website and see if the person can directly provide the info…

  • Unless you could take it down and clean it, somehow, in the event of a flood. But I think even the cement backerboard product used in bathrooms, though “mold resistant”, may not stand up to a prolonged soak in murky or high pressure waters.

  • Unless someone opened a hardi material plant close to us, the next logical place is Florida for sourcing, then Australia.

    The material is primarily sand and cellulose material (plants).

  • Last time I checked my wallboard was eminently removable, it was the putting it back up afterwards that was the hard part.

  • Amen, Jimbo.

  • Let me be the first to recommend http://www.newliving.net as an amazing teaching and suppky resource for Houston. Also check out http://www.buildclean.org as a resource that is committed to helping contractors choose smart, healthy and thus green materials.

  • Are there resources for green products in Houston? Yes. Are there many contractors that will do the work using green materials? Not so much. Don’t hire them.

  • I just called NewLiving and them quote a counter top for me in my kitchen. $125 a sq ft!!!!!! for recycled concrete and glass!!! WTF! As much as I want to build green and promote sustainable methods of construction, it seems only the super rich will be able to afford these prices. Are there any places in houston to purchase affordable recycled contruction material? somebody please help!

  • Mr. Hand,

    What are you trying to do? What do you need? I am working on a huge green project for BMW and have gained a lot of inexpensive resources.

  • Mr. Hand,

    Icestone, the product I think you’re describing in your post, is but one of the many “green” countertops available at New Living. It is more expensive than others because it is made in a small shop in Brooklyn, NY, and you must buy a full slab, even for a small job. We’re considering it for our bath, but only need half a slab – want the other half? I’ll sell it to you for….half of what we’ll pay!

  • Karen,

    definitly interested. email me at spicoli26@yahoo.com if you want to make a deal.

  • There was a pice on KUHF this morning about this green shop and they interviewed a customer who is building green – after she tears down her current house! Me thinks she does not see the irony here.

  • We are glad to hear that many of you want to use green materials and have considered New Living as a resource. We are working very hard to find products that are affordable for everyone. IceStone is an amazing product, but as Karen stated, there is a lot of detail that goes into making the slab and therefore it is priced on the higher end of countertops. We do also sell a recycled glass countertop by Silestone for $57.00 sq foot installed.
    We would be happy to help coordinate jobs together for people who just need partial slabs. That is certainly the greener option.

    In addition to countertops, we also sell sustainable floors at really reasonable prices, locally-made custom cabinets and several lines of organic and natural mattresses.

    We are really proud that we now also have our own line of the most affordable no-voc paint in the city for mid-$20’s per gallon.

    So, the bottom line is, we want everyone to be able to find healthy, affordable products and we appreciate your support.

    Stop by anytime and ask for one of us,
    Jennifer, Jeff, Lewis, Mark, and Sara

  • The Houston market is still growing for both demand and supply in Green Building materials.

    Green Builders Source was opened nearly 2 years ago to help builders meet the green demand in a more affordable and informed fashion.

    Due to the consumer demand, we have meet the request to also sell retail.

    Green Building does not, and should not, be a specific product. Some of the products mentioned here are in fact green, but they are also what I call “archeticture or commercial grade”. IceStone and Vetrazzo are all beautiful and green products, but their market segment is very focused. There are ALOT of choices for countertops out there, as well as lighting, utility conservation, wall coverings, and more. Make your building process fun, don’t get married to one product, educate yourself and explore!

    One of the most impressive Green Building suppliers I found in my research would make custom cabinets and butcherblock countertops from trees taken from a new construction lot. This worked well in the market they were located (lots of oaks, maples) but may not be ideal here. Who knows, this thread might be the fuel to create a new product. If it is, be sure to let me know, we might be able to put it in our showroom!

    Oh, and please support your local Green Building supply providers. There are several all over Texas! Most of us are small businesses, privately owned, and active in our communities. We are here exactly for this challenge. If you need something, ask us. If you found something that others would like, tell us. Together, we can make Green Building a success in HOUSTON!